U of A researches treatment for Zika virus
University of Alberta researchers, led by virologist Tom Hobman and his team, are working towards finding a way to diagnose and treat the mosquito-borne Zika virus. While the virus is considered to be low-risk in Canada—there have been four confirmed cases of Zika in Canada in which people caught it during travel to South America—the World Health Organization is predicting three to four million cases in the Americas over the next year. The virus was first identified in 1947 in the Zika forest in Uganda, and its spread was limited to Africa and Southeast Asia until 2007. Zika reappeared last May in Brazil, which is now struggling with pandemic levels of the disease. The virus is said to be linked with microcephaly, a rare condition that causes babies are born with small heads due to underdeveloped brains. Symptoms may or may not manifest when bitten by a mosquito, but those who have had the virus reported fever, joint pain, red eyes and a rash.
The World Health Organization declared Zika virus an international emergency on Monday afternoon, after an emergency meeting of independent experts was held in Geneva.WHO is asking pregnant women to take precaution by delaying travel plans to the Americas when possible as well as using mosquito repellent and wearing long sleeves. The last time WHO made a health emergency call was made for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Alberta releases royalty review
On Friday, after five months of debate, Alberta premier Rachel Notley announced the outcome of the government’s royalty review. The document introduces an industry-friendly royalty system that will not increase the take in royalties from oilsands projects. Oil companies will pay a flat five percent royalty rate on wells until the industry averages a cost allowance, after which those rates will increase based on price. Adjustments will be made to the current royalty rate to take into account the costs of drilling.
Alberta may qualify for up to $250 million in federal funding
The federal government has confirmed that Alberta may qualify for financial funding up to $250 million to assist in the economic crisis. These payments would fall under the fiscal stabilization program, which allows provinces to make claims when their revenues tumble by more than five percent from one year to the next. The federal budget is due out in March.
CBC launches pilot project for hearing-impaired Canadians
Starting today, CBC is launching its pilot project that makes Canadian public radio available to deaf and hard-of-hearing Canadians through text transcripts. The pilot project will make text transcripts on a daily basis of The Current, which will be available on the CBC website, and it will post one American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted radio documentary from the program each month.